Magazine Feature / People

Professor’s site dedicated to solar talk

It’s Christof Demont-Heinrich’s dream to power his house and electric car with solar energy. In fact, the University of Denver assistant professor of mass communications and journalism studies is so passionate about powering cars and homes with solar energy, he built a Web site to spread information to anyone with the same ambition.

“I wanted to do more than just do it myself,” he says. “I consider it my form of activism; I want to encourage others to do the same thing.” has articles, quick facts and videos about the topic. Readers can learn about everything from the latest on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to the difference between solar-powered and solar-charged driving.

Demont-Heinrich has tackled many topics on his site, which has been online since Sept. 2009.

For instance, he and his wife plan to install solar panels on their Aurora home in June. The process has had more hurdles than he hoped, and he’s written about it on his site.

He also uses the site to explain how Xcel Energy’s 120-percent rule makes it difficult to power his home and future electric car with solar energy.

“Basically, according to this rule, Xcel won’t give customers a rebate for a solar system that threatens to produce more than 120 percent of the customer’s total annual home electric use,” his blog reads. As with many people, Demont-Heinrich needs the rebate to afford solar panels and build a system that covers his energy needs.

As a result, he is asking Xcel to use this year’s electricity use totals, which he expects will be higher than last year’s. A higher electric use means Xcel will offer a rebate on a bigger solar system — one Demont-Heinrich hopes will be large enough to provide enough electricity to power his home’s annual use and 12,000 miles a year in an electric car.

While the process of going solar can be complicated, he hopes he can encourage people to make a move toward solar and solar-charged driving as well.

“It seemed radical and unbelievable to me that you could run a car from the sun,” Demont-Heinrich says. “I got excited about it, and I hope others do, too.”


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